Evan J. Smith
January 27, 2014
Photos By: Courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Power and Driveline

Not since 1986 have enthusiasts been able to select between a turbo-four, V-6, or a V-8. No SVO, the new 2.3L Ecoboost is designed specifically for the Mustang, and will benefit from direct injection, twin independent variable cam timing, and a twin-scroll turbo to reduce lag. It sports a steel crank and trick three-port cylinder head to deliver power and projected best-in-class fuel economy. It will deliver more than 305 hp and 300-plus lb-ft. This will breathe new life into an untapped Mustang segment, as we expect the aftermarket to run rampant with tunes and components for maximum power and performance.

Returning is the potent 3.7L V-6, but with more power. "It will be worthy of the Mustang badge," said Dave Pericak, Ford Mustang chief engineer. But the big gun remains the popular Coyote 5.0L, and you can expect more power thanks to enhanced breathing. Ford incorporated larger valves and cams, and revised heads with improved port design. Strength comes from Sintered-iron, forged, Boss-like 302 rods and springs, so we're anticipating a high redline, upwards of 7,500 rpm.

The 5.0L also sports a new intake (we're guessing lower profile), with charge motion-control valves to improve stability at idle and mid-range throttle response. According to Ford, "The variable cam timing on the intake side has a greater range of adjustment thanks to mid-lock phasers." The 5.0L Coyote also gets redesigned piston tops and a balanced forged crank.

Power is transferred though either a six-speed manual or auto, but both are enhanced for improved performance. The manual features a revised shift linkage for shorter throws and precise smooth shifting. Those opting for the Select-Shift automatic can also take control with the steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifts with rev-matching for downshifting. The auto also gets a redesigned case with lighter internals.

Chassis & Suspension

Ford is touting its IRS-equipped Mustang suspension as world-class with handling being Boss-like, if not better, and with unprecedented ride quality and all-around performance. And while straight-liners may consider the IRS a hindrance, we expect it to be robust, though not the ticket for regular trips in the 9s.

The IRS is an integral-link independent rear suspension. "The geometry, springs, dampers, and bushings all have been specifically modified and tuned for this high-performance application," said Pericak. The benchmark was the Boss 302, and Ford says the '15 equals or surpasses its handling, feel, and the level of confidence it inspires.

The front end now utilizes MacPherson struts, a double-ball-joint spindle with twin lower links (per side, rather than heavier A-arms), and a mild antiroll bar. This arrangement allows for larger brakes and improves steering feedback. According to Nair, "It's easier to drive at the limit. It will flatter the novice and reward the expert."

Three brake packages are available: V-6 Mustangs get two-piston calipers with 12-inch rotors, however, order the Ecoboost and you can upgrade to 14-inch rotors with four-piston calipers. The 14-inchers are standard on the GT, but track dawgs will surely go for the massive 15-inch rotors (upsized 15- percent from the GT500) with six-piston calipers to enjoy optimum braking. Furthermore, there are booster and pedal improvements, all designed to enhance driver feel.

Technology Takeover

Ford has invested heavily into technology and connectivity, so expect a slathering of electronic goodness. The popular Track Apps returns and is standard on the GT and optional on the Ecoboost model. Launch control is standard on the V-8 and gauges will feature a 160-mph speed with text reading Ground Speed and 8,000-rpm tach (with revolutions per minute) spelled out, plus oil pressure and vacuum/boost gauges.

The Mustang has been mechanically and electronically optimized in the critical areas, such as the PCM and ABS, all to enhance the driving experience and driving style. Together the 2015 Mustang features as many as 20 new technologies. These include pushbutton start, toggles for selectable driving modes such as Normal, Sport, Track, and Snow, plus extras like tire pressure monitoring (per wheel).

"The advanced new Ford-developed stability control system is tuned to maximize Mustang's dynamic capabilities," said Pericak. "It has torque vectoring that directs engine power to individual wheels to help keep the car on course." Systems like the SYNC AppLink allow drivers to use their smartphone apps to control entertainment. We're also anxious to try the SYNC, MyKey, and enhanced MyColor gauges.

Enhancements can also be found in the Shaker Pro audio system, blind-spot monitoring, and cross-traffic alert, and Mustang owners will enjoy remote starting and remote window-open options.

Mustang Interior

The front office of just about any Mustang has been appropriately styled, and the 2015 has been upgraded with an aeronautical theme. Joel Piaskowski, director of exterior design for the Americas, calls it McQueen cool. "With an honesty of materials. It sets the groundwork for the development of the Mustang."

Ford stuck with the twin round cannons for speedo and tach, but spread slightly to fit a larger info screen in between. Mustang also retains the eyebrows atop the dash, but tucked underneath is a newly shaped face to the IP (instrument panel) that has a gentle curve, with a trio of vents in the center and a pair of more rectangular vents on each end. Working from the bottom of the center stack, you'll find the push-to-start button and toggle switches (a la Ford GT) for various controls, then the climate controls, and above that is the large MyTouch screen.

Engineers improved ergonomics by nudging the shifter to the left and sliding the cup holders to the right. There's also a new leather-wrapped steering wheel with built-in controls for the usual stuff, plus the aforementioned paddles for shifting on auto-equipped Stangs. We found the wheel comfortable and the pedal placement smartly located.

Occupants are lowered 20 mm and there is more overall interior room. There are also outlets for USB and 12V devices, more softness in the interior, and true metal-plated finishes, plus visibility is improved. Trunk space is increased, and the pass-through from seats to trunk is 40 mm wider. Additionally, the IRS design creates more interior space, which provides rear-seat occupants with more hip and shoulder room.

Ford will naturally offer a convertible and a multitude of trim levels. The ragtop is smartly appointed and specifically engineered with many improvements, including a center-mounted latch for the top.

Finding a Mustang to suit your needs will be easy, and we expect a few specialty models to follow shortly after the release of the '15. Soon we'll put the S550 Mustang through its paces, so stay tuned for a road and track report. We'd love to hear you comments, so feel free to contact me (evan.smith@sorc.com). In the meantime, check out www.musclemustangfastfords.com for more exciting info on your favorite Fords.